Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) has sent a letter to the U.S. Capitol Police asking how and why a key door to the Capitol that was initially locked, became unlocked, allowing hundreds of unauthorized people to enter the Capitol on January 6.
According to the letter, Johnson and his staff have reviewed security camera videotape showing the following timeline of events on the day of the pro-Trump rally and subsequent rioting at the Capitol building, despite Trump's calls for peace:
- At approximately 2:26 p.m.: an unauthorized man inside the Capitol tried to open one of the upper west terrace double doors to exit the building by pushing the door’s crash bar.
- The door did not open and the man turned around and walked back through the hallway and away from the doors.
- At 2:33 p.m., five unauthorized people walked down the same hallway, past a police officer who appeared to gesture toward the doors.
- This time, when one of the individuals pushed the door's crash bar, it opened.
- All five people exited the building, leaving the door ajar for a moment allowing people from outside to gain entry.
- At 2:34 p.m., the police officer near the door walked away from the door out of the view of the security camera.
- At 2:35 p.m., five police officers not wearing riot gear or protective equipment came to the doorway and blocked people from continuing to enter.
- Four unauthorized people pushed past the officers and a surge entered the building.
- The police officers did not appear to take action to stop or block people for several minutes.
- At 2:40 p.m., the five police officers came back to the door and stopped the surge of people from entering, and appeared to be talking with some of them.
- At 2:44 p.m., around the time Ashli Babbitt was shot inside by a Capitol Police officer, one of the five police at the exterior door looked over his shoulder toward the interior of the Capitol building, appeared to speak to a colleague, and then the group slowly retreated from the doorway allowing a surge of people to enter.
- At 2:47 p.m. law enforcement closed the doors.
Johnson is posing a series of questions to Acting Police Chief Yogananda Pittman.
You can read the full letter and questions below:
June 10, 2021
Ms. Yogananda D. Pittman
Acting Chief of Police
U.S. Capitol Police
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Acting Chief Pittman:
Thank you for continuing to provide my office access to U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) security camera footage of the interior and exterior of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. The purpose of this review is to document exactly what happened at the Capitol on January 6 to provide an accurate and complete historical account. In particular, my office is reviewing security footage to determine, among other things, the main entry points into the Capitol, how people gained entry into the Capitol, when and where violence occurred both inside and outside the Capitol, and the full spectrum of behavior displayed by individuals on January 6.
I write today to request information about what happened at a specific location. Over the span of a 14-minute period, approximately 309 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol on January 6 through the upper west terrace doors. At approximately 2:26 p.m. on January 6, a security camera showed a male inside the Capitol attempting to open one of the upper west terrace doors to exit the building. This unauthorized individual, who was by himself at the time, walked through a narrow hallway to the double doors and attempted to exit through the left door by pushing the door’s crash bar. The door did not open and the individual turned around and walked back through the hallway and away from the doors. Approximately seven minutes later, at 2:33 p.m., security footage showed five unauthorized individuals walking down the same hallway, past a police officer. The security footage, which did not include audio, appeared to show the police officer gesturing toward the doors as these individuals walked past him. Once at the double doors, one of the five individuals pushed the left door’s crash bar and this time, it opened. All five individuals exited the building at approximately 2:33 p.m.
As the fifth individual exited through this left door of the upper west terrace doorway, it remained ajar for a moment allowing people from the outside of the building to gain entry into the Capitol. At 2:34 p.m., as people began to enter through this door, the police officer who was in the vicinity of this door one minute earlier, walked into another hallway away from this door and out of the view of the security camera. At 2:35 p.m., five police officers who were not wearing riot gear or carrying any protective equipment, such as shields, arrived at this doorway. As soon as these officers approached the doorway, they appeared to form a thin line across the narrow hallway, blocking people from continuing to enter the building at this location. About a minute later, four unauthorized individuals, including two people wearing helmets, pushed past the officers’ line and a surge of people entered the building walking past the officers. These police officers did not appear to take any further action to stop or block people entering the building until a few minutes later.
At 2:40 p.m., the same five police officers once again approached the same upper west terrace doorway and formed a line stopping the surge of people. For the next several minutes, it appeared that the officers and the people gathered in the doorway exchanged words. Without any audio, it is unclear what was said, but it did not appear that either the police officers or the individuals closest to the doorway were aggressive or violent. At 2:42 p.m., it appeared that at least one individual in the crowd outside of the doorway began to push people toward the doorway causing the individuals closest to the doors to move toward the officers. The officers took a step back, but still maintained the integrity of their line for another two minutes.
At 2:44 p.m., around the time that Ashli Babbitt was shot, security footage showed one of the five police officers at this upper west terrace doorway looking over his shoulder toward the interior of the Capitol building. At that point, this officer appeared to say something to another officer standing in front of him. Both officers, followed by their three other colleagues, appeared to slowly retreat from the doorway, allowing a surge of people to, once again, enter the building.
Security footage then showed an increase of law enforcement officers outside of the building directly in front of this doorway. At 2:47 p.m., law enforcement closed these doors. Over the span of this 14-minute period, it appeared that approximately 309 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol through the upper west terrace doors. USCP estimated at least 800 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol on January 6. If that estimate is accurate, it appears this doorway was the entry point for as much as 38 percent of that total.
The American people deserve an accurate and complete understanding of what happened on January 6. To provide that historical record, it is important that all aspects of that day—from the peaceful protests on the Ellipse to the acts of violence in and around the Capitol—are fully and fairly examined. In order to ensure the most accurate understanding of what occurred at the upper west terrace doors on January 6, I ask that you please provide the following information by no later than June 24, 2021:
1. Do you agree with the assessment above that on January 6, 2021, starting at 2:33 p.m. at the upper west terrace doors, approximately 309 unauthorized individuals gained entry into the Capitol at this location? If not, please provide the number of individuals that entered the building at this location.
2. Does USCP still believe approximately 800 unauthorized individuals entered the Capitol on January 6? If that estimate is not correct, what is the current estimate and why has it been revised?
3. In order to fully understand what happened at the upper west terrace doorway, it is important to hear from the officers that were present at that location. Have these officers filed detailed reports of this incident? Has USCP conducted transcribed interviews with them? If so, I request copies of these reports and transcribed interviews. If not, I respectfully ask for the opportunity to interview these officers.
4. Does USCP know why at approximately 2:26 p.m. an individual could not open the left door at the upper west terrace entrance, but seven minutes later, at 2:33 p.m., another individual could open that same door? Does USCP have any indication that this door was locked at 2:26 p.m. and then unlocked by 2:33 p.m.?
5. Please produce security footage of the interior and exterior cameras located near the upper west terrace doors from 2:20 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. on January 6, 2021.
Thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter.
United States Senator
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